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NAB Leader to Testify Wednesday on Capitol Hill

Here's what LeGeyt will talk about

NAB President/CEO Curtis LeGeyt will testify before the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee on Wednesday and push for congressional action to help broadcasters compete and expand services.

Specifically, LeGeyt is expected to call on Congress to pass the AM Radio For Every Vehicle Act and push for competitive balance in a media and advertising marketplace that he says poses challenges to a “uniquely free and local model,” according to a copy of his testimony  from NAB.

This will be the NAB leader’s first opportunity to publicly encourage Congress to push a fully seated FCC to modernize broadcast ownership rules and create a more transparent, fair and predictable process for broadcaster transactions.

Wednesday’s hearing, titled “Lights, Camera, Subscriptions: Assessing the State of the Video Marketplace”, will focus on how streaming services have disrupted the media marketplace, but a preview of LeGeyt’s written testimony indicates he will use the opportunity to broadly discuss how outdated regulations hinder innovation across broadcast media.

LeGeyt is expected to reiterate that radio and television broadcasters live in an era of Big Tech that leaves them competing in a media landscape filled with an avalanche of content options.

“Broadcasters’ competition is local and national, pay-TV, over-the-top, satellite, podcasting, digital and beyond. Yet we operate under a set of outdated rules and restrictions premised on the idea that we compete only with one another for audience and advertising dollars, while other media and big tech platforms operate without restraint,” LeGeyt will tell subcommittee members.

AM/FM radio, specifically, while still representing more than 70% of advertising-supported listening, faces increased competition from streaming giants, LeGeyt will say. That includes audio options such as podcasts where listening has quadrupled over the last four years,.

“As listeners change their media consumption habits, broadcasters are investing in apps, digital and new distribution platforms to fit the needs of our audience, but the competition is fierce.”

Those challenges are exacerbated by Big Tech’s market power and largely unregulated practices in both the marketplace for digital advertising and as gatekeepers to digital content, he says. In addition, LeGeyt will ask Congress to encourage the FCC to modernize its local and national broadcast ownership rules to account for the rise, and increasing dominance, of digital media.

According to the draft, LeGeyt also will push for Congress to reinstate the Diversity Tax Certificate for eligible broadcasters, which was eliminated in 1995.

“Broadcasters are committed to improving diversity in the industry and creating new opportunities for women, people of color and other underrepresented communities. Recent data shows only single-digit broadcast station ownership by women and people of color, with access to capital continuing to be a barrier for many,” LeGeyt wrote.

He will testify about the role broadcasters play as first informers and emergency lifelines. Included in his comments will be instances of how radio and television remained some of the few dependable sources of information near Lahaina, Hawaii, after wildfires there in August “burned fiber lines and cell phone towers to the ground.”

LeGeyt will also address the advancement of generative artificial intelligence and the disruptions it could bring to local journalism.

“Beyond the increased costs for vetting stories and footage, as well as the need to protect the image and likeness of our trusted media personalities, the use of broadcasters’ news content in generative AI models without authorization or compensation risks further diminishing reinvestment in local news.”

Also testifying at the hearing on Wednesday will be David Gandler, board member and CEO of FuboTV Inc., Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel and manager of special projects for Consumer Reports, and Grant Spellmeyer, president and CEO of the America’s Communications Association – ACA Connects.

Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chair Bob Latta (R-Ohio) will gavel the hearing to order at 2 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday.